Danni Ashe (born January 16, 1968 in Beaufort, South Carolina, USA) is an American nude model and former stripper. She is founder and CEO of Danni's Hard Drive, a pioneering adult softcore Web site. A subsidiary company, DHD Media, spun off her core business now provides Internet infrastructure services for companies in all realms of business.
Ashe is 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 m) and has a natural 32FF bust, which was at the root of her early fame. She started stripping at age 17 in Seattle and a few years later met her husband when he came to her club during a business trip.
In 1996, with a successful career as a magazine model, she read The HTML Manual of Style and Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital during a beach holiday. On her return to the US she locked herself in her bedroom and two weeks later she had written the code for the Danni.com website.
She announced the website to a couple of friends, and took a trip to New York with her husband. Word spread and when she reached her hotel in Manhattan she had a message from her Internet Service Provider (ISP) telling her that the volume of traffic she was getting had taken their entire system offline.
She was quickly moved to her own server, which became famous for having a "working" light that never went out. It was described as a "hot box" and in honor of this, when she started charging for her site she named the member's area "The HotBox".
During its first two years online Danni's Hard Drive was one of the busiest websites in the world, using more bandwidth than the whole of Central America combined.
As her success grew she began to hire staff and models and by 2003 she had 50 full-time employees, a 16,000 square feet studio in Los Angeles, an archive containing hundreds of thousands of photos and thousands of hours of video, and was making millions of dollars a year. Her success was particularly noteworthy as Ashe's website was built on softcore adult material and did not contain images of men or explicit sexual activity.
On December 5, 2000, Guinness World Records awarded Ashe the title "Most downloaded woman on the Internet" when they confirmed her image had been downloaded over a billion times. Ashe was the first person in history to officially reach this milestone.
The download record had previously been claimed by bikini model Cindy Margolis, who claimed seven million total downloads at the time of Ashe's challenge.
Ashe's counter-claim was documented and audited by three independent agents before being confirmed by Guinness. Samuel Sugar, her then marketing director, then called the Howard Stern Show, during a live appearance by Margolis, to confront her with news that she'd officially lost her title. Margolis accused Ashe of "stealing" the title from her, unaware that Guinness had officially crowned Ashe and, playing into Sugar's hands, started a media storm.
Margolis had built a career on being the most downloaded woman and her anger at losing the title fueled a news story that traveled the globe in early 2001. Ashe was profiled in news programs worldwide. At one point she was interviewed simultaneously on CBS, NBC and ABC in the US. And in Scotland a man became briefly famous for losing his job after being emailed Ashe's picture at work.
The publicity took Ashe to the Cannes Film Festival and cemented her global fame. Guinness World Records announced they would no longer have "downloads" as a record category in mid-2001, claiming they were "impossible to count".
Ashe and Margolis both still claim the "Most Downloaded Women" record, though Ashe was the last person officially recognized by Guinness.
She remains in charge of the business, and although she no longer is doing modeling, her vast archive of material continues to provide new content of her to the site's members. She also participates in an active message board for the site's members, where she interacts, answering questions and participating in discussions.